Steve Macchia Blog

Presence With Myself

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One of the best ways we can grow in noticing internal attitudes about ourselves is to say very simply “isn’t that interesting…” whenever you are confronted by a spark of joy, or conversely a hint of growing frustration…

…It was my spiritual director who encouraged me to notice myself more deeply. He’s the one who hears my stories each month we’re together, and as he listens well, he reflects back to me what he’s noticing. One time he noticed my inability to see my own internal reality. I was frustrated, had what I thought was a legitimate “gripe” to voice, but after releasing my angst I was more interested in blaming another than to acknowledge my own contribution to the situation. And it wasn’t just one such incident, but a few others too, and that’s what seemed a bit glaring. However, when I am in a better frame of heart and mind, I’m more able to smile, give voice to the emotion, name my reality, and then lean into a new way of being present, this time with myself.

Are you at home with yourself, or would you prefer to run away and not have to deal with yourself? Let me suggest a few practical handles to consider when getting to know oneself: 1. Pay attention to when you sense a tear of compassion welling up inside and don’t hold it back – release the emotional response so that you can fully feel empathy toward yourself or another; 2. Notice when you are concerned about an injustice and your natural response is to raise a fist of rage against the perpetrator and as an advocate for the victim – most likely that has something to do with your passionate and compassionate heart; 3. Affirm the delight of your heart with a shout of joy and gladness so that all who hear can rejoice with you – praise and thanksgiving can set the heart free from negativity, discouragement, and a critical/cynical spirit.

Behold the presence of yourself – believe that you are a dearly beloved child of God – belong to the fellowship of faith who know with certainty the call upon their lives – become a friend to yourself, treating others as you lovingly and graciously treat yourself…all for the glory and praise of God.

{Sign up today for Silencio, LTI’s free monthly spiritual formation resource at www.LeadershipTransformations.org}



Presence With Others

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Recently I observed a young couple sitting around a large fire pit in a winter resort community, dressed warmly in winter garb, but each one focused exclusively on their smart phones, and I wondered…

…Were they together to celebrate their first anniversary? Their rings were still shiny, but their companionship had grown cold. No outdoor fire pit would heal their broken hearts. If given the opportunity for a brief interchange I would encourage them to hold fast to one another despite the feelings that had waned so early into their marriage. It reminded me of how un-present I can be with those who share my love and life.  It’s way too easy to just tune another out, drown out their voice with internal and external distraction, or simply lose the energy to keep working on the vitality of the relationship.

If you’re there and don’t want to be any longer, let me be so bold as to suggest to you (as I consider them for myself) a few helpful hints for practicing the presence of people: 1. Eye contact – when we have our eyes peeled elsewhere (away from another or unfocused and adrift from the conversation), simply turn toward your friend or loved one and open your eyes to see how they are truly doing;   2. Incline your ear – listen with a compassionate heart to truly attend with empathy (walking in the shoes of another at such a depth that stating what you’re hearing is affirmed by the speaker); and  3. Hold your tongue – by far the best way to be present is when we aren’t trying to convince, conjole, compare or contrast our stories with theirs, but quietly and prayerfully holding their story instead.

Behold the presence of another – believe that s/he is a beloved child of God – belong to one another as spiritual friends – become companions with those who desire time spent together for the express purpose of being present, nothing more, nothing less.

{Go to the LTI home page to sign up for Silencio, a free monthly spiritual formation resource: www.LeadershipTransformations.org}



Presence with God

 

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This month’s Silencio is entitled “Christmas Presence” and points to the hope-filled priorities of Advent, a season for focusing our hearts on waiting, watching, wondering and witnessing…

 

…So what is it about this time of year that births a sense of hope and anticipation in your heart and soul? Is it the large “to do” list, with trees to decorate, shopping to complete, and holday events to enjoy? Where does your desire for time alone with God fit within that list? It seems especially challenging to find the time to linger, pray and notice God during Advent and Christmas when we’re simply too busy checking off a long list of must do’s.

Let me suggest a few simple ideas to practice the presence of God: 1. Make corporate worship a priority and purpose to engage in your faith community’s expressions of joy and hope with an awareness of the empowering presence of God…and give him the thanks he deserves; 2. Choose a handful of times to set apart 20-30 minutes to simply be alone and quiet before the Lord, attending to his presence and power in the inner sanctuary of your soul – read a small portion of the Word aloud and linger with that passage prayerfully and reflectively; and 3. Take time to notice the beauty of God expressed in his creation, in the lives of those who surround you, in music that uplifts the inner spirit, and in the God-given gifts in this unique season of joy. Wait, watch, wonder and witness – with hope and joy in Jesus.

Behold the presence of God – believe he is everywhere present to comfort, counsel and care – belong to those who are full of faith this festive time of year – become aware of God’s love like never before.

{Go to the LTI home page to sign up and receive Silencio free each month – www.LeadershipTransformations.org}